Button to scroll to the top of the page.

News

From the College of Natural Sciences
Waters Named ACM Fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery

Waters Named ACM Fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery

The Association for Computing Machinery, the primary professional organization in the field of computer science, has named Brent Waters as an ACM Fellow. The award goes only to highly distinguished computer scientists representing the top 1% of ACM members.

Adapting the Frequency of COVID-19 Testing Depending on Transmission Rate and Community Immunity

Adapting the Frequency of COVID-19 Testing Depending on Transmission Rate and Community Immunity

Illustration by Jenna Luecke

Expanding rapid testing stands out as an affordable way to help mitigate risks associated with COVID-19 and emerging variants. Infectious disease researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new model that tailors testing recommendations to new variants and likely immunity levels in a community, offering a new strategy as public health leaders seek a way out of a pandemic that has so far thwarted the best efforts to end its spread. It is the first study to identify optimal levels of testing in a partially immunized population.

Frog Pandemic (Audio)

Frog Pandemic (Audio)

Until COVID-19, few people alive today had experienced the chaos and destruction of a really bad pandemic, one that has at times ground businesses, schools and social lives to a near standstill and killed millions globally. But did you know that we aren't alone in being battered by a global infectious disease? Frogs are also struggling through their own pandemic that, according to biologist Kelly Zamudio, has several eerie parallels with COVID-19. Perhaps our own encounters with a pandemic will give us new sympathy for our slimy, bug-eyed friends.

Ancient Cousins, New AI Could Reveal Clues About Causes of Birth Defects

Ancient Cousins, New AI Could Reveal Clues About Causes of Birth Defects

Editor's note: Each December, the journal Science identifies one scientific discovery as its "Breakthrough of the Year." For 2021, this recognition went to AlphaFold and RoseTTA-fold—artificial intelligence software that accurately predicts the 3D structure of proteins. Guest writer and microbiology graduate student Colleen Mulvihill reports on one example of how UT Austin scientists are using the new technology to solve longstanding questions in human health.

Keiko Torii Receives Asahi Prize

Keiko Torii Receives Asahi Prize

University of Texas at Austin professor of molecular biosciences Keiko Torii has won the Asahi Prize from the Asahi Shimbun Foundation in recognition of "her breakthroughs on growth control of plants and the development mechanism of stomata."

Texas Science Stories that Wowed Us in 2021

Texas Science Stories that Wowed Us in 2021

While for many 2021 may have felt like it lasted a few years, it was in fact just 12 months—and University of Texas at Austin scientists and researchers managed to pack a ton of new discoveries into that time. From the furthest reaches of the cosmos to the depths of the ocean and from the tiniest microbes to the most massive black holes, research in Texas Science covered a lot of ground, as researchers pushed boundaries, answered big questions and offered solutions to the world's problems. Here are 16 examples of how UT Austin scientists, mathematicians and technologists used 2021 to usher in new knowledge and innovations to help change the world.

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

The dark silhouette of the 2.1-meter Otto Struve Telescope is backed by a colorful sunrise. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography

In the course of research for his Ph.D., Zach Vanderbosch spent nearly 300 nights studying the heavens from telescopes at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory. Later this month, he will receive his doctorate for his research into the dead stars known as white dwarfs, and the orbiting disks of debris made up of these stars' former planets.

Getting Math and Physics on the Same Page

Getting Math and Physics on the Same Page

In this illustration, three exotic particles called “anyons” circle around each other in a process called braiding. Mathematicians use a method called generalized symmetry to study such interactions.

When physicists want to explain how subatomic particles—such as electrons, photons, quarks and neutrinos—behave and interact, they use a framework called quantum field theory (QFT). QFT might be the most successful physical theory ever invented. It was used to predict the existence of the Higgs boson, antimatter and neutrinos. And it has predicted the results of particle physics experiments accurately to the highest number of decimal places ever recorded.

Put No Effort into Teaching (and Other Advice Janice Fischer Ignored)

Put No Effort into Teaching (and Other Advice Janice Fischer Ignored)

A geneticist and award-winning teacher on the resurgence of teaching at research universities, how students have changed since she's been in the business, and the joys of repetition.

Tropical Forests’ Recovery from Deforestation is Surprisingly Fast

Tropical Forests’ Recovery from Deforestation is Surprisingly Fast

Secondary forests at the slope Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica. Photo credit: Rens Brouwer.

Tropical forests are being deforested at an alarming rate, but also have the potential to regrow naturally on abandoned lands. A study published this week in Science shows that regrowing tropical forests recover surprisingly fast, and after 20 years can attain nearly 80% of the soil fertility, soil carbon storage, structure and tree diversity of old-growth forests. The study concludes that natural regeneration is a low-cost, nature-based solution for climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration.